Magazine article Screen International

Abu Dhabi Media Summit Round-Up

Magazine article Screen International

Abu Dhabi Media Summit Round-Up

Article excerpt

Briefs from the Abu Dhabi Media Summit 2014.

The fifth edition of the Abu Dhabi Media Summit kicked off Tuesday (Nov 18). This year's theme, 'Driving and Sustaining Future Media in MENA and Beyond,' features more than 600 participants, 70 speakers and 14 panel discussions led by regional and international leaders of the media industry.

The Summit, opened by Queen Rania Al Abdullah, places an emphasis on local participation and community engagement by offering workshops and opening its doors to the public for the first time on days two and three.

Featured speakers include Mark Thompson, president and chief executive officer, The New York Times Company; Gerhard Zeiler, president, Turner Broadcasting System International; Robert A. Kotick, president and CEO, Activision Blizzard; JB Perrette, president, Discovery Networks International; Princess Ameera Al-Taweel, founder and CEO, Time Entertainment.Queen Rania's opening speech

Queen Rania Al Abdullah opened the 2014 ADMS with a calling to the media, speaking to more than 500 international media leaders about the Arab identity and 21st century media opportunities.

"We either develop our region, or we let others dismantle it. Find solutions to the challenges, or watch the challenges avalanche. Harness the tools to drive the Arab world forward in the 21st century, or let others use those tools to drag us back to the dark ages," said Queen Rania.

"The good news is that new industries are emerging. The digital landscape is evolving and internet connectivity and mobile technologies are creating new horizons for entrepreneurs. Arab internet users are growing at around 20% annually."Local content to spur regional growth

Untapped demand for local, Arabic content will spur rapid regional media growth over the next five years, according to a new study unveiled at the Abu Dhabi Media Summit.

The study also found that accelerated adoption of mobile technology, evolutions in paid and digital media, and a new wave of unique youth-produced content will be key factors in driving media growth in the region.

Gaming in the Middle East is growing faster than the global average with expectations of tripling in size in the coming years - from $1.6bn in 2014 to $4.4bn in 2022. The study expects the total gaming segment size to mirror the size of the TV market in seven to eight years.

The audio-visual content market in MENA is seeing many industry-changing trends, including Pay TV's forecast to grow 10.3% per year, compared to ad-based TV's 7.8%, though Satellite TV dominates the sector, accounting for more than 95% of TV distribution.

The MENA e-commerce market was worth $2.3bn in 2014 and is expected to grow 13% annually to 2019. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are the dominant markets, and will continue to make up almost 40% of the total market to 2020.

Mobile capabilities are increasingly important - mobile commerce is expected to reach 20% of e-commerce revenue in 2015, up from 7% in 2011.

Education in digital media and on-the-job training are critical components of growing the talent base. With training in technologies such as movie production, 3D effects, gaming development, companies can vastly increase the productivity of small-scale media producers.Digital future

Video-enabled platforms were discussed during a panel discussion at the 2014 Abu Dhabi Media Summit, with panellists agreeing that content providers need to explore new pathways to growth while exploring local talent in emerging markets.

The second panel discussed social media's role surrounding the Arab Spring. "Social media is both a blessing and a curse - while extremists are the first to condemn new technology as the 'tools of Satan', they end up using it better than everyone else," said Faisal Abbas, editor in chief of Al Arabiya News.

Du's CEO Osman Sultan told ADMS guests that the social media value chain is dictated by the end users, not the vertical hierarchies of old, claiming that internet users are the focus, especially in regards to YouTube and how it's governed by the users. …

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